Day two of the Folio: Show opened with another panel of industry veterans sharing insights on leveraging content for revenue, moderated by Christa Carone, president of Group Nine Media.
Eric Schurenberg, CEO of Mansueto Ventures, the parent company of Inc. and Fast Company, shared intel on how Inc. harnessed the often lonely sentiment that comes with entrepreneurism into a premium membership community. The CEO Project is for execs at members of the Inc. 5000 list (companies that have reached a benchmark revenue), who wish to connect with similar-tier innovators. Customer acquisition was easy, considering the massive audience Inc. has built from its print and digital properties.
Wendy Bounds, VP and chief content officer at Consumer Reports, a non-profit, said you have to offer something viable and specific. “The key to revenue is repackaging and retooling the content you have so that it is infinite to people—retool what you have to save people time,” she said.
Leaders at Patch, The Daily Beast and Popular Science, other brands that joined the panel, agreed that building affinity with an audience through content is the driver. Membership should be viewed as a product, and that product has value.
To close the Keynote Panel, which happened to occur on Halloween, Carone gave each panelist a topic and asked if it would be a trick or a treat for the brand in 2020:
- Joe Brown, VP and Editorial Director, Bonnier Corp.: Experiential content—definitely a treat
- Eric Schurenberg, CEO, Mansueto Ventures: Video monetization—a treat
- Warren St. John, CEO and Editor in Chief, Patch: Audio—a treat, easy to implement
- Wendy Bounds, chief content officer, Consumer Reports: Branded content studios—a treat, but only if it’s done strategically
- Mia Libby, CRO, The Daily Beast: Platform monetization—a treat, but only a Tootsie Roll, not a core part of the 2020 revenue strategy
In the breakout sessions, Folio:‘s content director, Caysey Welton, asked one panel, “What does brand loyalty mean?” Steven Grune, Meredith Corp.’s, VP of brand licensing, pointed to the Better Homes & Garden brand, which has created an endless list of licensing opportunities. For him, brand loyalty in some cases even comes from an audience that may have never had a touchpoint with the print edition, but engages with the products. Cameron Conners, head of brand marketing and strategy at Hearst Magazines, said it was a common goal to build affinity and convert it to loyalty. And Kate Hathaway Weeks, director of marketing and business development at Yankee Publishing, shared how her 85-year old brand used the passion of New England to engage a nationwide audience, especially with remote editors who can geographically boost the otherwise small editorial team.
“Take these passionate brands and extend those brands into new services in the marketplace,” added Grune.
Several examples of this were covered on a later session, “Discovering White Space with Direct-to-Consumer Products.”
Claire Oliverson, general manager at America’s Test Kitchen, and Leora Schachter, VP of digital product at Trusted Media Brands, both spoke to the importance of using their editorial teams and audiences to drive branded products. Leora emphasized a customer-first approach, referencing Taste of Home’s longstanding community of home chefs, which she fondly referred to as “OG UGC,” the loyalists that help them test and focus group before launching products, and Oliverson pointed to America’s Test Kitchen’s New York Times-bestselling cookbook for young chefs, which launched an ATK Kids membership program.
The two also provided tools for younger brands to apply to their DTC programs, reiterating that content and audience profiles can hold the keys to the research needed to succeed. And when a brand cannot build out an audience persona, turn to the tools that are available.